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“A Unique Must See” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary
2124 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19130
215 236 3300
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$72*
and up
Philadelphia CityPass
Ranked #4 of 555 things to do in Philadelphia
Certificate of Excellence 2014
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world’s first true “penitentiary,” a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of convicts. Tours today include the cellblocks, solitary punishment cells, Al Capone’s Cell, and Death Row.
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Boston, Massachusetts
Senior Contributor
48 reviews 48 reviews
12 attraction reviews
Reviews in 36 cities Reviews in 36 cities
60 helpful votes 60 helpful votes
“A Unique Must See”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 7, 2013

Awesome site. When I go to a new city, I try to see out unique things to do that I couldn't necessarily do at home. So, for my trip to Philadelphia, the Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site was perfect for that. It is indeed unique. Locals and tourists alike will find it interesting.

The tour is about an hour long and I think cost us around $12.50 per person which is very reasonable.

One thing that I liked was that the tour guide gave SO much history about not only this prison, but the prison system in general and history of prisons at the time this one was most active. Despite the huge amount of information being given, the tour moved along at a good pace. Not too fast, not too slow. I also went in the winter when the group size wasn't too big (10 or so of us).

The site itself is as creepy as it looks in pictures. In a good way creepy. I like how they intentionally didn't "restore" the prison to its glory, but instead kept it for the most part in the condition from when they took over, but they did enough to make it safe for tours. It gives it a great feel, and you can really use your imagination to picture it as it was. They have great visual histories as you go along too (pictures and such). Apparently there is an audio tour by Steve Buscemi, who sounds perfect for it, but I would recommend the actual guided tour. You can ask questions and I just think having a human being (expert) tell you the history is a better way to experience it. The history is quite shocking and the insight you get into the history of the prison system in the US is jaw dropping.

Again, I went during the middle of winter and it was very very cold, but this did not upset my enjoyment of the tour at all. So go no matter what time of year. The staff is amazing and our tour guide was one of the best tour guides I have ever had.

So, very cool. Make it part of your sightseeing if you are visiting and still go too if you are a local.

Visited February 2013
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Bluffton
Senior Contributor
48 reviews 48 reviews
15 attraction reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
“An Experience that everyone should see”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 6, 2013

This place was breath-taking. There is nothing about this place that doesn't catch your attention, from the fortress design, to it being across the street from houses, to its intricate cells, the hole, and the stories. You are completely in awe the entire time. This stop is definately a must, especially for families with teenagers! :) The guided tour offers a lot of information and extra places in the prison that you can visit but self-guided tours cannot

Visited December 2012
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Scranton, Pennsylvania
Senior Contributor
46 reviews 46 reviews
8 attraction reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
“it was ok.”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 4, 2013

I wasn't really impressed. I guess because there's not really a whole lot to see- once you've seen one cell you've seen them all.

There is no bathroom, just a porta-potty.
I got tired of walking around but then again I had been walking around all day.

Visited September 2012
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Ardmore, Pennsylvania
Senior Contributor
39 reviews 39 reviews
13 attraction reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
“You don't need a Get Out of Jail Free card to visit”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 28, 2013

It is worth the visit. The buildings need some more restoration, but it is still fascinating. The more folks visit, the more income, so visit it please, this is a national historical site. Remember, this is Philadelphia, founding fathers and all. Just think of who passed through these walls...

Visited May 2012
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Pasadena, California
Top Contributor
57 reviews 57 reviews
18 attraction reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
39 helpful votes 39 helpful votes
“Another Capone hangout!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 27, 2013

This is a great piece of penitentiary history and you will definitely learn a lot for your visit here. We opted for the audio tour so we could move at our own pace. Really informative and like hearing the inputs from actual inmates and guards. Almost missed a ton of information because it seemed like the tour was over after about stop 10. We hadn't seen Capone's cell, so we knew we were still missing part. Make sure to keep going all the way to the end.

Visited January 2013
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